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Build a Better To-Do List

Does it seem like there's too much to do, and not enough time to do it in? Must be Monday. The good news is that all that's standing between you and true productivity is a solid to-do list.

to-do list 

(Photo Credit: john.schultz/Flickr)

About 75 percent of us keep to-do lists, according to Prevention, and experts say that even a bad to-do list is better than none at all -- the simple act of writing down tasks and crossing them off gives us a sense of accomplishment and control.

Still, if we're going to build these lists anyway, why not get as much out of them as possible? A recent article at the Jane Dough catalogued ways to make our to-do lists as useful as possible. Use some of these tips when you're constructing your lists.

1. Keep Lists of Lists

This is almost a joke among to-do list enthusiasts -- "I have lists of my lists!" -- but it's actually just a good idea. Creating a master list of all lists (work, groceries, financial, etc.) helps you keep all the spheres of your life organized and working together.

2. Batch Your Tasks

"By working on all of the similar tasks, it will prevent your jumping from task to task and help you focus on one type at a time," productivity expert Ken Zeigler tells the Jane Dough. For example, you might group together all the emails or phone calls you need to make in a given day.

3. Work Toward a Goal

Why do we make to-do lists in the first place? To keep track of minutia, so that we don't lose the forest while concentrating on the trees. Think about your goals for the week, the month, and the year, and tie your daily goals to the big picture. It'll help you keep on track and give you that larger sense of purpose that's at the heart of all organizational schemes.

Finally, don't feel bad if you add items to your lists, just to cross them off. Fifty percent of us do it, just for the thrill of feeling like we're getting something done.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your to-do list tips? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

More from PayScale

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The Afternoon Productivity Dip and How to Stop it

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